The Elseworlds wiki last edited by fesak on 05/04/14 12:24PM View full history

Elseworlds

"In Elseworlds, heroes are taken from their usual settings and put into strange times and places--some that have existed, and others that can't, couldn't, or shouldn't exist. The result is stories that make characters who are as familiar as yesterday seem as fresh as tomorrow." © DC Comics

Elseworlds are published by DC comics and have been since the late 80’s, before that they were known as ‘Imaginary Stories’ where a fresh idea or alternate histories were tried out on existing characters or storylines. Most notably during the Silver age of comics era a lot of these ‘Imaginary Stories’ were published using DC’s main characters of Superman and Batman, though they did also branch out into DC’s other ‘mainstream’ characters.

Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, the last 'Imaginary Story'

In 1986, the last ever ‘Imaginary Story’ was published in Superman #423 and Action Comics #583, called “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” This two part story arc was promoted as Superman's final appearance at DC Comics. In this story, the Superman timeline is irrevocably altered in several ways and became a darker, more sinister place.

The main story was told using flashbacks of Lois Lane, who became Lois Lane-Elliot, who was being interviewed about Superman’s last appearance. "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow" was a farewell story to honor the previous version of Superman. In the following month of 1986, John Byrne published the Man of Steel mini series which presented an updated version of Superman for the modern age.

Gotham by Gaslight, the unofficial first Elseworld

In 1989 DC comics copyrighted the ‘Elseworlds’ name, along with the now famous logo and published its first official Elseworlds title, “Gotham by Gaslight”. Though this story does not carry the Elseworlds logo, it was retroactively changed to be the first official Elseworlds title by DC and reprints of the book carry the logo. This story was a fresh take on Batman who lived in the Victorian Age instead of modern day. The main Villain in the piece is Jack the Ripper who has come to Gotham.

The first book to officially bear the Elseworlds logo and mantra was Batman: Holy Terror, written by TV writer and novelist Alan Brennert and illustrated by Detective Comics stalwart Norm Breyfogle. In it, Batman is a priest in a theocratic dictatorship who discovers that his parents were murdered by the Church. Searching for answers and vengeance, he discovers the dark secrets at the heart of his own government, and ultimately becomes a terrorist to dismantle the system which murdered “heretics” such as his parents.

To date DC has published several Elseworlds of particular note that are considered to be ‘The Best of their League”, two specifically of note are Kingdom Come and The Dark Knight Returns. Both of these stories have received world wide acclaim for their storyline and artwork.

The Dark Knight Returns

"Batman: The Dark Knight" was originally published in 1986 as a four part miniseries by Frank Miller, it has since been widely thought of as his best work. The series was originally intended by Miller to create an end for the Batman, one where the storyline would have a complete close, this turned out not to be the case when DC published a sequel to the book “The Dark Knight Strikes Again”, a sequel to The Dark Knight Returns which brought back the original team to work on the book.

The Dark Knight Returns is set in a dark future where Batman had given up the Superhero life and gone into seclusion. While the Superheroes had left humanity to its own devices crime, both by humans and meta humans, had run rampant, and the world was quickly tearing itself apart.

The story opens on Harvey Dent being rehabilitated after plastic surgery, funded by Wayne Enterprises. The rehabilitation does not take however and he returns to crime, forcing Batman to don the Batman costume again, something he has not done since the death of Jason Todd twenty years earlier. The story also brings in Carrie Kelly who joins Batman as Robin for the story arc, notably not the first time Robin has been female in an Elseworlds title. Also worth noting is the fact that it is Harvey Dent as Two-Face that bring the Batman out of retirement, not the Joker as most people assume it would be.

Other changes to the Batman story become apparent as the story moves on, such as the new tank like Batmobile which is mirrored in the Cartoon version of The Batman and has made several other appearances in media as homage to the title.

Kingdom Come

Possibly the most noteworthy Elseworlds title to date and has been widely received as the definitive book published by DC. Published in 1996 is was written by Mark Waid and painted by Alex Ross, notably the artwork in the book is unusually realistic for a comic book and uses Ross’s famous style to depict the realism and darkness of the storyline.

Set 20 years in the future, the superheroes have left the world to its own devices, feeling betrayed and unsure of their place in the new world. The main story centers on Superman and his reasons for leaving, and returning. Other characters of note are Batman, who was crippled by Bane and Two-Face after they found out his secret identity, he now uses giant Bat Robots to keep Gotham City under control. Wonder Woman, who has been stripped of her title by Themyscria after the ruling body of The Amazon’s decreed that she had not made the world a better place. Captain Marvel who had retreated inside the form of Billy Batson, his alter ego, and was kept in a hypnotic state by Lex Luthor to keep him under control.

Both these stories are widely recognized as the best Elseworlds to date, though Kingdom Come draws heavily on The Dark Knight Returns for some of its imagery, both of these have sequels, though not as popular as the original books, both the sequels received the same acclaim, ‘The Dark Knight Strikes Again’ and ‘The Kingdom’ respectively follow “The Dark Knight Returns” and “Kingdom Come”.

One thing of note is in “The Kingdom” is the first mention of Hypertime, which DC used to explain the Elseworlds stories as parallel dimensions where beings could cross timelines and see what their world could have been like.

Hypertime has recently been brought back into the mainstream DCU continuity after the “52” storyline, though if this means that new Elseworlds storylines will be published or Elseworlds characters will be making appearances in the mainstream DCU in unclear at this point, all that is known is the possibility is there for anything.

Elseworlds

Here is a list of Elseworlds, in character order with their published dates and ISBN details for reference.

Batman Elseworlds

TitlesNumber of IssuesYearISBN-10ISBN-13
Batgirl and Robin: Thrillkiller3 Issue Mini-Series19971563894246978-1563894244
Batman/Captain AmericaOne Shot1996156389291X978-1563892912
Batman & Demon: A TragedyOne Shot20001563892863978-1563892863
Batman & Dracula: Red RainTrade19911852864370978-1852864378
Batman: BloodstormTrade19941563891859978-1563891854
Batman: Crimson MistTrade1998184023072X978-1840230727
Batman/Houdini: The Devil's WorkshopOne Shot19931563891131978-1563891137
Batman/LoboOne Shot2000B003AP9TM2
Batman: The Blue, The Grey, and the BatOne Shot19929993903469978-9993903468
Batman: The Book of the Dead2 Issue Mini-Series1999B000NY7IEE
Batman: Brotherhood of the BatOne Shot19951563892510978-1563892516
Batman: Castle of the BatOne Shot19941852866055978-1852866051
Batman: Dark AllegiancesOne Shot19961563892332978-1563892332
Batman/Dark Joker: The WildTrade19931563891409978-1563891403
Batman: Dark Knight DynastyTrade19971852869364978-1852869366
Batman: Dark Knight of the Round Table2 Issue Mini-Series1998B000S1ITSG
The Dark Knight Returns4 Issue Mini-Series19861852867981978-1852867980
The Dark Knight Strikes Again3 Issue Mini-Series20011840236213978-1840236217
Batman: Gotham NoirOne Shot2001B000IQHXPG
Batman: Haunted Gotham4 Issue Mini-Series19991401221416978-1401221416
Batman: Hollywood Knight3 Issue Mini-Series2001B002BQDHSI
Batman: Holy TerrorOne Shot19911563890186978-1563890185
Batman: I, JokerOne Shot19981563894009978-1563894008
Batman: In Darkest KnightOne Shot19941563891123978-1563891120
Batman: KnightgalleryOne Shot1995
Batman: League of Batmen2 Issue Mini-Series2001B0006E8U9S
Batman: Manbat3 Issue Mini-Series1995185286818X978-1852868185
Batman: MasqueOne Shot19971563893096978-1563893094
Batman: Master of the FutureOne Shot19911563890151978-1563890154
Batman: Nevermore5 Issue Mini-Series2003B003E8QEIM
Batman: Nine LivesOne Shot20021840235179978-1840235173
Batman: NosferatuOne Shot19991563893797978-1563893797
The Batman of ArkhamOne Shot2000B0006RHWFS
Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham4 Issue Mini-Series2000
Batman: The Order of BeastsOne Shot2004B000R4LP8U
Batman: Reign of TerrorOne Shot1998B000H02APG
Batman: Scar of the BatOne Shot19961563892316978-1563892318
Batman/Tarzan: Claws of the Cat-Woman4 Issue Mini-Series19991569714665978-1569714669
Batman Thrillkiller '62One Shot19981563893711978-1563893711
Batman: Two-FacesOne Shot1998B000RY0FZA
Batman: Year 1004 Issue Mini-Series20061401211925978-1401211929
Catwoman: Guardian of Gotham2 Issue Mini-Series1999B00157RZI2
Daredevil and Batman: Eye For An EyeOne Shot19970785105522978-0785105527
Batman/Daredevil: King of New YorkOne Shot20001563893835978-1563893834
Robin 30002 Issue Mini-Series1992B0006PHQMO

Superman Elseworlds

TitlesNumber of IssuesYearISBN-10ISBN-13
Son Of SupermanOne Shot1999156389596X978-1563895968
Superboy's Legion2 Issue Mini-Series2001
Supergirl: WingsOne Shot2001B0006RSY6E
Superman: A Nation DividedOne Shot19981563894416978-1563894411
Superman: At Earth's EndOne Shot1995156389243X978-1563892431
Superman: The Dark Side3 Issue Mini-Series19981563895269978-1563895265
Superman: Distant FiresOne Shot19981563892898978-1563892899
Superman, Inc.One Shot1999B000I33W7M
Superman: KalOne Shot19951563891670978-1563891670
Superman: Last Son of Earth2 Issue Mini-Series2000B000KGCIZY
Superman: Last Stand On KryptonOne Shot2003B000I8XV3C
The Superman MonsterOne Shot1999B000TBBIDI
Superman: Red Son3 Issue Mini-Series20031401201911978-1401201913
Superman: Speeding BulletsOne Shot19931563891174978-1563891175
Superman's MetropolisOne Shot19971563892421978-1563892424
Superman/Tarzan: Sons of the Jungle3 Issue Mini-Series20011569717613978-1569717615
Superman: True BritTrade20041401200230978-1401200237
Superman: War of the WorldsOne Shot19981563893967978-1563893964
Superman/Wonder Woman: Whom Gods Destroy4 Issue Mini-Series1997B001D31MZK
Kingdom Come4 Issue Mini-Series19961563893304978-1563893308

Superman/Batman Elseworlds

TitlesNumber of IssuesYearISBN-10ISBN-13
Elseworld's Finest2 Issue Mini-Series1997B000VNJZWU
Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & BatgirlOne Shot19981563893754978-1563893759
Superman & Batman: Generations4 Issue Mini-Series19981563896052978-1563896057
Superman & Batman: Generations II4 Issue Mini-Series20011563899906978-1563899904
Superman & Batman: Generations III12 Issue Mini-Series
Superman and Batman: World's FunniestOne Shot2000

Justice League Elseworlds

TitlesNumber of IssuesYearISBN-10ISBN-13
JLA: Act of God3 Issue Mini-Series2000B0006R9KVM
JLA: Age of Wonder2 Issue Mini-Series2003B000VIWOOG
JLA: Created Equal2 Issue Mini-Series2000B0006RQC6S
JLA: Destiny4 Issue Mini-Series2002B000Y9PR3M
JLA: The Island of Dr. MoreauOne Shot2002B0006RZFVQ
Justice League of America: The Nail3 Issue Mini-Series19981563894807978-1563894800
Justice League of America: Another Nail3 Issue Mini-Series20041401202659978-1401202651
JLA: Riddle of the BeastTrade2001156389873X978-1563898730
JLA: Secret Society of Super-Heroes2 Issue Mini-Series2000B000YVKU9G
JLA: Shogun of SteelOne Shot2002B0006RW4EC
JSA: The Liberty File2 Issue Mini-Series19991401202039978-1401202033
JSA: The Unholy Three2 Issue Mini-Series2003B000UDGOZ2
Justice RidersOne Shot1997156389257X978-1563892578
League of Justice2 Issue Mini-Series1996
Planetary/JLAOne Shot2002B000JFBDQQ

Other Characters Elseworlds

TitlesNumber of IssuesYearISBN-10ISBN-13
Conjurors3 Issue Mini-Series1999
Elseworlds 80-Page GiantOne Shot1999
Flashpoint3 Issue Mini-Series1999
The Golden Age4 Issue Mini-Series19931401207111978-1401207113
Green Lantern: Evil's Might3 Issue Mini-Series2002B00418V312
Green Lantern: 1001 Emerald NightsOne Shot2001B0006RMLZY
Kamandi: At Earth's End6 Issue Mini-Series1993B0006OZV4K
Titans: Scissors, Paper, StoneOne Shot19971563893630978-1563893636
Wonder Woman: AmazoniaOne Shot19971563893010978-1563893018
Wonder Woman: The Blue AmazonOne Shot2003B000GINV2U

Non-U.S. Elseworlds

Title/Issue #Reprints/CollectsLanguage
DC Premium #2JLA: Ein Akt GottesGerman
DC Premium #3Sohn Des SupermanGerman
DC Premium #5JLA: The Secret Society of Super-HeroesGerman
DC Premium #6Superman: Der Letzte Sohn der ErdeGerman
DC Premium #7Batman: Die Dynastie der DunklenritterGerman
DC Premium #14JLA: Allein Unter FrauenGerman
DC Premium #25Golden AgeGerman
DC Premium #29Genosse SupermanGerman
DC Premium #34Justice League: Noch Ein NagelGerman
Reino do Amanhã #1Reino do AmanhãPortuguese
Superman: Entre A Foice e O Martelo #1Superman: Red Son #1Portuguese
Superman: Entre A Foice e O Martelo #2Superman: Red Son #2Portuguese
Superman: Entre A Foice e O Martelo #3Superman: Red Son #3Portuguese

Elseworld Annuals

For further details: Elseworlds (Story Arc)

As part of DC's yearly annual events 1994 was the year of the Elseworlds, twenty-three of the ongoing titles at the time were given the Elseworlds treatment and were re-imagined in many ways. The 1994 annuals showcased some of the best and worst takes on many of DC's characters and featured some of the biggest talents in the industry at the time. All but two of the Elseworld annuals were stand alone issues; Adventures of Superman Annual #6 and Superboy Annual #1 were part of a two part storyline entitled "The Super Seven".

Action Comics Annual #6
Adventures of Superman Annual #6
Batman Annual #18
Batman Legends of the Dark Knight Annual #4
Batman Shadow of the Bat Annual #2
Catwoman Annual #1
Deathstroke Annual #3
Detective Comics Annual #7
Flash Annual #7
Green Lantern Annual #3
Justice League America Annual #8
Justice League International Annual #5
L.E.G.I.O.N. Annual #5
Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #5
Legionnaires Annual #1
Lobo Annual #2
New Titans Annual #10
Robin Annual #3
Steel Annual #1
Superboy Annual #1
Superman Annual #6
Superman The Man of Steel Annual #3
Team Titans Annual #2

Legends of the Dead Earth Annuals

For further details: Legends of the Dead Earth (Story Arc)

DC's 1996 annual event was branded as "Legends of the Dead Earth". These are not officially labeled as Elseworld tales but many consider them to be Elseworlds because they take place in the distant future and feature stories influenced by the legends/stories/legacies of the heroes and villains of the past for that particular title. A few of these annuals are actually in continuity because the characters are from the distant future. Twenty-five annuals had the Legends of the Dead Earth branding.

Action Comics Annual #8
Adventures of Superman Annual #8
Aquaman Annual #2
Azrael Annual #2
Batman Annual #20
Batman Legends of the Dark Knight Annual #6
Batman Shadow of the Bat Annual #4
Catwoman Annual #3
Detective Comics Annual #9
Flash Annual #9
Green Lantern Annual #5
Guy Gardner Warrior Annual #2
Impulse Annual #1
Justice League America Annual #10
Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #7
Legionnaires Annual #3
Power of Shazam Annual #1
Robin Annual #5
Sovereign Seven Annual #2
Starman Annual #1
Superboy Annual #3
Supergirl Annual #1
Superman Annual #8
Superman The Man of Steel Annual #5
Wonder Woman Annual #5

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